At his first press conference since being released from the hospital Monday after a brutal attack Saturday night, Mayor Tom Barrett appeared with his hand in a cast, stitches on his cheek and was visibly tired. But his message was strong.
"I think virtually any other citizen in this city would have reacted the same way," Barrett said of his involvement in a domestic dispute Aug. 15. "When someone says ‘Call 911, you call 911.' It's that straightforward, and that's exactly what happened here."
Barrett addressed the crowd in front of his Washington Heights home alongside his wife Kris, sister Betsy and niece Molly, who he credits as the real "hero" for calling 911 at the scene of the crime.
Barrett was leaving the Wisconsin State Fair Saturday night with his sister, niece and two of his daughters when heard cries for help from a grandmother near 87th and Orchard Streets in West Allis. Barrett approached the woman, who was in an argument with her daughter's ex-boyfriend, 20-year-old Anthony Peters. Peters allegedly wanted to see his 14-month-old daughter.
When the mayor approached to calm him down, the suspect allegedly beat him with a metal baton, leaving him with gashes to the face and head, a shattered tooth and two missing teeth. When the mayor fought back with a punch, he fractured his right hand.
Barrett said he will return to the doctor this Friday to learn the prognosis of his injuries.
Barrett called Peters' reaction to his involvement "very bizarre," but wouldn't go into the details for fear of jeopardizing the criminal case that is now underway.
When asked why he was not accompanied by his security personnel on his outing, he explained that his trip to the fair was a "spur of the moment" decision between him and his siblings, who invited his family to meet them there that night to watch a band. Barrett's wife, Kris, was visiting family in California the night of the crime.
Barrett said he's still in need of more rest and plans to take the week off. Unfortunately, this week was to be his family's vacation week, but the mayor joked that they are taking a "staycation" at home.
He thanked the West Allis Police, Milwaukee Police and Froedtert Hospital Staff for their efficiency.
"To the many people in our community who have reached out to me and my family, I want to give a heartfelt 'thank you.' We're on the mend, everything is headed in the right direction, and I just wanted to let you know that I'm still standing."
One of his supporters is President Barack Obama, who called Barrett to offer his condolences.
"The President was very cordial. I did indicate that I'd prefer to be called for pitching a perfect game (or) no-hitter rather than this, but he was very nice and thanked me for stepping forward."
To watch and listen to the mayor's talk in its entirety, click on the video below.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”